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March 13, 2023

Going beyond Agile Boards: how to create Sprints on a Gantt chart

Agile Roadmapping BigGantt Gantt Hybrid Management Project Management
Agnieszka Sienkiewicz

Gantt charts work great in Classic projects that follow a linear and sequential order. But did you know you can pair them with Agile projects and create Sprint Gantt charts to follow iterations as you normally do on a Board? Although Agile and Classic management methodologies differ from each other, you can blend these two into hybrid project management. The hybrid approach will let you accommodate multiple teams working on different aspects of the same project but in different environments.

Today, we will show you three ways to create a Sprint in BigGantt for Jira that will help you visualize and track your project iterations on a Gantt chart.

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Method #1: Create Sprint Gantt charts based on Jira Sprints

If you plan and track your Sprints with Jira Boards, you can easily add them to BigGantt. This way, the app will show your active Jira Sprints and their respective tasks on the work breakdown structure and visualize them as taskbars on a timeline.

To add Sprints to your project’s work breakdown structure, you need to tell the app that you want it to recognize Sprints as a separate issue type. And then, include this type in your WBS, so that the app can properly synchronize and display Jira Sprints in WBS and on a Gantt chart.

You can do both in just one step. First, go to Configuration > Tasks > Task structure. And then, navigate to Advanced Configuration on the Task structure page and toggle “Jira Sprint” on.

Enabling Sprint-based structure in BigGantt.

 

As a result, the Jira Sprint issue type will become the top-level WBS item overarching tasks belonging to a respective Sprint.

Sprint-based WBS along with visualized tasks against a Gantt chart timeline.

Grouping WBS items by Sprints

If you would like to track your individual iterations better, add a “Sprint” column to your current WBS view. And then, enable task-grouping based on your Sprints. The app will group tasks on a WBS and timeline so you can quickly tell one Sprint from another.

The “Group tasks” lets you sort and organize data using different field values. In this particular case, we used “Sprint” to group our tasks.

 

Using this method, whenever you continue working with Sprints in Jira, the BigGantt app will synchronize them with your Sprint Gantt chart and WBS respectively.

Method #2: Structure Sprints with basic tasks

In case you do not have Sprints in your Jira project, you can begin creating a Sprint Gantt chart with an unstructured or even blank Gantt chart. Here, we will denote individual Sprints/Iterations using basic tasks that are native issue types to BigGantt which you can use alongside Jira issue types like Jira epics and stories.

However, since you will not find basic tasks in Jira, please keep in mind you will not be able to synchronize them with Jira. Therefore, the Sprint Gantt chart you would build using this method will not be properly reflected on a Sprint Board in Jira.

Basic tasks for Sprint Gantt chart and Sprint goal

In the previous method, “Sprint” was the parent item to its respective tasks. Basic tasks can serve exactly the same purpose. So you can either first create basic tasks and give them names (e.g., “Sprint 1,” “Sprint 2,” and “Sprint 3,” etc.) and then add stories under them (manually or sync them with an existing Jira project).

Alternatively, you could add stories first followed by basic tasks. Either order will work and the choice will largely depend on which one would be more feasible for you (considering the number of tasks you would need to add and arrange).

In our example, we created basic tasks first and then added tasks and stories. You may also notice a milestone in Sprint 1 (an orange diamond) with a generic “goal description.” Milestones work great if you want to set a Sprint goal and keep it visible on the Sprint Gantt chart.

A Sprint Gantt chart and WBS where basic tasks overarch their respective tasks or stories. The WBS additionally features the “Story Points” (SP) column that shows SP values for each task and Sprint.

 

In other words, basic tasks in BigGantt can serve many purposes, depending on your needs. For example, you can also use it for inserting additional notes into your WBS or leaving a placeholder item for future Sprints or other elements. (You can easily inline edit every WBS item so the initial name does not really matter.)

Securing basic tasks from unintentional changes

Please note that this basic-task method requires the most effort as you will be building a Sprint-like structure from scratch. Moreover, the parents of your structure are basic tasks that, just like Jira stories or issues, you can manipulate intentionally or by sheer mistake. For instance, you could accidentally change their schedule by stretching or moving them on your Gantt chart. As a result, the period of your Sprint would change.

To avoid such a situation, you may want to set your parents (basic tasks) to Auto top-down or Locked mode. The first one sets the parent as the element that determines the duration for its children. The second one locks the parent’s period so that no user actions or dependency mechanism will be able to change it.

Method #3: Mapping Iterations to Sprints

Iterations are separate initiative templates (box types) that you can nest under your project. From the Overview point of view, this is how your main project and the respective Sprints could look like.

The parent project element in the hierarchy contains all the epics and stories you have present in the scope of your project. The individual Iterations, on the other hand, will show only those epics and stories which you have planned for a given Sprint.

 

Each individual Iteration box under the project can store one Sprint from your Jira board. Therefore, each Iteration will store epics and tasks (or user stories) applicable to the respective Sprint. Or, in other words, each Iteration will have a different sub-scope.

This concept is very similar to Jira Sprint boards with each Sprint having its own board filled with stories. The only difference is that you will not see the Sprint backlog, Sprint board, and issue cards but a WBS and a Gantt chart for every individual Sprint. Therefore, unlike with the previous methods, you can view each Sprint individually (like on a board) without having to group tasks on the entire WBS.

To get started, go to Configuration > Tasks > Scope definition and navigate to the “Timeboxes” at the bottom of the page. (A timebox in BigGantt means an Iteration, Sprint, or Hybrid Stage.) Next, select “Sprint” under the Connected Jira Field and the respective Jira Sprint board.

Basically, those settings let you match an Iteration with its respective Jira board and Sprint. This way, when you make any changes to your Sprint Gantt chart, a connected board in Jira will automatically update—and vice-versa.

A Scope definition page. Set the syncing rules to synchronize the scope of an Iteration in BigGantt with a respective Jira Sprint board.

Task period alignment for Sprint tasks/stories

Each Iteration box under a project, apart from the scope, also has start and end dates matching the duration of a given Sprint. The tasks sitting within that Sprint should also match the period of that Sprint. In other words, they should not start earlier or finish later than the Sprint dates indicate.

Considering the timeframe imposed by Sprint itself, you can align the tasks/stories in two ways. First, you can set the start/end dates of the tasks to be exactly the same as the start/end dates of the given Sprint (Precise alignment). This alignment mode stretches the taskbars (expands their duration) to fill the entire space on the Gantt chart within one Iteration (excluding weekends).

Precise task period alignment on a Sprint Gantt chart.

 

The Smart alignment, on the other hand, also ensures the tasks do not go beyond the Sprint duration dates. But, unlike the Precise alignment, it does not affect the tasks’ initial duration. In other words, if the task is supposed to take 2 days, the taskbar will be 2-day long but will not sit beyond the Iteration timeframe.

Smart task period alignment on a Sprint Gantt chart.

 

To enable the Task period alignment on your Sprint Gantt chart, go to Configuration > Tasks > Scheduling and select the alignment mode under the “Task period alignment.”

Task period alignment settings for Iteration-based tasks in BigGantt.

Using Gantt charts for Sprint tracking

A Gantt chart lets you quickly create a highly visual representation of your project, even if it is Agile or Hybrid. In addition, just like Agile Boards, you can use it for efficient project progress tracking across the entire lifecycle of a project. And since they offer a chronological order of your project items, you can capture and track goals for both short and long Sprints.

Sprint Gantt charts in BigGantt also let you create task dependencies within the same or across two Sprints, no matter whether those tasks belong to the same or two different projects. When you hold your Daily Scrum meetings, you might find out that some tasks need to be removed from a current Sprint or have their date changed.

Whenever you change the dates of Sprint tasks/stories, BigGantt will auto-reschedule the tasks linked with Strong dependencies based on the scheduling rules between those tasks. (Please note that the automatic re-scheduling option does not apply to tasks linked with Soft dependencies.)

As your team completes their tasks, you can track their status and completion percentage. All this information is clearly visible thanks to color-coded statuses and progress bars. As your team updates the statuses of their tasks, the app also updates your Sprint Gantt chart in real-time. This way, you have an accurate and up-to-date overview of where the tasks in each Sprint are at any given moment.